February TBR: Celebrating #OwnVoices Authors for Black History Month

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Here in the United States, February is designated as Black History Month. The movement has its roots as early as the 1920s and aims to draw attention to and celebrate the history, achievements, and cultural contributions of African-American citizens. The work of amazing organizations like We Need Diverse Books and the huge (and growing) emphasis within the book blogging community on promoting diversity really are changing the publishing market and starting to ensure that all kind of voices are supported and heard.

To celebrate Black History Month, I’m prioritizing for books from my TBR list that I’ve been excited about forever–looking at you, Akata Witch!–that are also by African-American authors!


I haven’t figured out my February reading plan exactly just yet, but this is the main assortment that I’ll be reading from. My NetGalley wish for The Belles got granted, so that’s at the very top of the list! Akata Witch and The Hate U Give are both especially overdue for a read, and I’m going to the library tomorrow to pick up the latter.

Have you read any of the books on my February TBR? Do you have any suggestions of books I should add to the list? Do you ever make reading decisions around cultural events, or do things like the Diversity Bingo Reading Challenge impact when and how often you read diverse books? I’d love to hear more about how you pick books from your TBR, and whether any US-based readers have similar goals for February!


The 8 Best Things about Bookish Roommates

Perks of Bookish Roomies

Living with your best friends is one of the greatest things about being an independent young adult! You get to be ridiculous together all the time. You binge-watch shows together late into the night. You have each others’ backs and figure out household problems as a team, which makes overcoming challenges that much more satisfying.

I’ve been lucky enough to live with two of my best friends. And–even better–both of those friends are total book nerds, just like me!

I met Noelle and Matt four years apart, but the very first conversation I ever remember having with each of them was about reading. Isn’t that the foundation of all great friendships? Our bonds over bookishness not only made us super close, but also provided a few sweet benefits to the roommate situation!

Now that I (sadly) live several hours away from both of them, here are some of the perks of living with book lovers that I miss the most.

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Your bookshelf game is always the best

Picture-perfect shelves are a real point of pride in the bookish community. Reader roommates mean double the shelf space, double the books, and double the bookish goodies! Noelle and I put all of our favorites on the bookshelf in the main living space of our apartment and then decked it out with her Harry Potter bookends and my jar of Honeydukes peppermints.

They appreciate ambiance

Who else pays attention to making sure the lighting, seating, and furniture arrangements are ideal for cozying up with a novel and a cup of tea? Another reader, that’s who.

Reading time gets respect

You can usually trust another bookworm to not constantly interrupt your reading by trying to start conversations with you. You would think that would be common sense, but sometimes non-readers just don’t get it.

Me and Noelle at Nemo Seas Epcott cropped

Friends who swim together, stay together.

They’ve got top-notch recommendations…

Your life-in BFF is bound to know you better than just about anyone, so you can definitely count on them to recommend books that suit your tastes.

…and they stretch your reading boundaries!

Even though they’ve got your taste in books down to a T, reader roomies have their own preferences, and they’re not shy about getting you out of your comfort zone. Matt tends to read science-fiction, horror, and epic fantasy, so he’s always full of suggestions outside of my standard YA fantasy TBR list. And Noelle? She’s one of two people in the world that can sell me on a non-fiction book.

You get a live-in lending library

Remember those epic shared shelves? Having all of your roommate’s books at your fingertips is super convenient for borrowing books. Lucky for me, the libraries of Matt & Noelle don’t ever have fees for overdue loans!

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They’re always there to listen

Me n Matt as Sea Turtles

I honestly don’t know why I’m wearing this shirt in basically every picture??

Raving and ranting are two cornerstones of book blogging emotions. Maybe it’s just me, but sharing your intense feelings about all things bookish is way more satisfying in person. When you live with another book lover, you’ve automatically got someone around who understands exactly how you feel and can totally commiserate. Literally my entire experience while reading Sarah J. Maas’s Queen of Shadows was me reading another chapter, being shocked, and shouting across the apartment at Matt, “DID THAT REALLY JUST HAPPEN?!?!?

You share the best moments

Sometimes, getting to share the best parts of the reading experience means making the best memories.

It took me years to convince Noelle to read The Raven Boys. Literally, years. When she finally decided to read it over a break one year in college, she quickly became as obsessed as I am and tore through the first three books in the series in the span of a week. That left only The Raven King, which had yet to be released at the time. It also meant that we got to wait for the final book together. When the finale was released, we drove to the bookstore and bought what ended up being the last two copies in the whole store. One left for each of us, like it was meant to be.

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We put off the inevitable conclusion for a few months, re-reading the earlier books while working summer jobs and struggling through one of the worst heat waves on record for the area we lived in. Finally, when we were reaching the end of our time being able to live together, we sat down in Noelle’s bedroom, books in hand. Starting after dinner, we read The Raven King together, chapter by chapter. Whoever finished a chapter first would wait at the end and we exchanged commentary before moving on to the next chapter. As the hours moved past midnight and we crept farther into the book, we were both so engrossed in the story that we’d reach the end of the chapter, give each other a look of horror and too many emotions, then nod and keep going. At the very end, we cried together and hugged out the feels.

There’s nothing better than sharing the books you love the most with the people you love the most.

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The bonus perk of bookish roommates is that you’ve got something in common to keep you close, even when you’re far away. Matt and Noelle are still my go-to people for all things reading related.

The other bonus perk of BFFs who love books is that sometimes you can rope them into writing guest posts! Matt’s been working on not one, but two guest book reviews, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

Do you enjoy the benefits of living with book lovers? Are there any downsides that I’m forgetting in my nostalgia? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Top Ten Tuesday: The One Type of Book I Always Forget

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl for sharing your favorite contenders in different book categories!

This week’s topic is books you really enjoyed but can’t remember anything about. While trying to remember what I’ve forgotten, I spotted a trend. I can never remember anything from the penultimate book in a series.

The trend is especially true of series I read when I was younger. By which I mean back when I actually finished reading series. My track record of finished series has been pretty awful the past year or two, which is why wrapping up a few duologies and trilogies is on my to-do list for 2018. I’m looking at you, Shades of Magic and The Rose & the Dagger.

Anyway, here are some examples of how that poor accursed second-to-last book always gets lost in the shuffle of my brain. 1

In elementary school, I stumbled upon Tamora Pierce’s books and fell head-over-heels in love. The Circle of Magic quartet was my favorite, but I was a big fan of the Song of the Lioness quartet, too.

Sandry’s Book: The squad assembles; kids learn magic

Tris’s Book: PIRATES!

Daja’s Book????

Briar’s Book: EPIDEMIC!

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Review: Wolf by Wolf Duology


It’s time for a shoutout: Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Graudin, was one of the best books I read in 2017. The sequel, Blood for Blood, was also amazing. If you didn’t already know about these gems by the author of Invictus, get ready for your TBR list to grow by two!

The premise of the duology is so freaking great that I was recommending this book to friends before I had even read a page of it.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

These books exist at the crossroads of a delightful number of genres and sub-genres: spy fiction, historical fiction, dystopian, sci-fi, paranormal. It seems most accurate to classify the series as speculative fiction: a fantasy/sci-fi umbrella genre for books that explore what humanity looks like in worlds that are just a little bit different. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll never read anything else quite like this! Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2017

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish for sharing your favorite contenders in different book categories!

Where did 2017 go again? I’m overachieving today and giving you 20 books I thought I was going to read last year, broken down into four categories!

Currently on my Bookshelf, Gathering Dust:

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Review: The Suffering Tree


The premise of Elle Cosimano’s 2017 release, The Suffering Tree, definitely stands out from the YA release crowd. Her tale of ancestry, early American history, and witchcraft seamlessly blends multiple genres, but occasionally falls short and has some problematic points.

Tori Burns and her family left D.cover104156-mediumC. for claustrophobic Chaptico, Maryland, after suddenly inheriting a house under mysterious circumstances. That inheritance puts her at odds with the entire town, especially Jesse Slaughter and his family—it’s their generations-old land the Burns have “stolen.” But none of that seems to matter after Tori witnesses a young man claw his way out of a grave under the gnarled oak in her new backyard.

Nathaniel Bishop may not understand what brought him back, but it’s clear to Tori that he hates the Slaughters for what they did to him centuries ago. Wary yet drawn to him by a shared sense of loss, she gives him shelter. But in the wake of his arrival comes a string of troubling events—including the disappearance of Jesse Slaughter’s cousin—that seem to point back to Nathaniel.

As Tori digs for the truth—and slowly begins to fall for Nathaniel—she uncovers something much darker in the tangled branches of the Slaughter family tree. In order to break the centuries-old curse that binds Nathaniel there and discover the true nature of her inheritance, Tori must unravel the Slaughter family’s oldest and most guarded secrets. But the Slaughters want to keep them buried… at any cost.

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